Saturday, March 27, 2010

Virtual Linux Machines on Windows

Another approach you can take when working on a Windows host is to use virtualization software. Using this approach means that a virtual machine runs Linux on the Windows host. With today’s commonplace multicore processor, multi-gigabyte machines, this is a reasonable approach. One of the advantages of running a virtual machine is that you don’t need to compensate for Cygwin idiosyncrasies, because the virtual machine is running Linux.

When you run a virtual machine, a window opens on the desktop that looks like the monitor of the running machine. You can adjust this virtual monitor so that it occupies the entire screen area, which gives the applications running on the virtual machine more screen real estate. The virtual machine can also be minimized, and you can then use a terminal emulation program to connect via ssh (this is my preference.)

Several virtualization software packages exist:

• Sun VirtualBox ( This is the recommended solution. VirtualBox is easy to install and lets you easily create new machines.

• VMware ( VMware has been in the virtualization market for years and offers a very mature product. It’s harder to configure than VirtualBox and requires registration.

• QEMU ( This is an open source tool for system emulation that runs best on Linux. There are distributions for Windows that are precompiled.

Using VirtualBox
VirtualBox is by far the easiest software to install and get running and is the recommended solution. It does a great job with the basics and also offers features like emulation of the serial and USB ports. This is important because the primary way to communicate with a board during startup is through the serial ports. To create a development environment, you need the following:

• VirtualBox software from Sun: Obtain this from the VirtualBox site, and run the installer. The page contains pointers to the URLs for the latest distributions. VirtualBox is a dual-licensed product, meaning that Sun can offer it as open source software and license its use under other circumstances. Commercial VirtualBox users can download and evaluate VirtualBox at no cost. If you’re a commercial user, the VirtualBox terms of use require you to obtain a license.

• An Ubuntu bootable CD image: The Ubuntu project publishes CDs that are ready to boot a running Linux system (what’s called a LiveCD) and can be used for installation as well. To download an Ubuntu LiveCD, visit The page asks for your location to find a close mirror. The download is a file that is a bit-image of a CD. Of course, any LiveCD distribution will do; there are plenty to choose from, and new ones appear on a regular basis. If you’re partial to Red Hat/Fedora, you can use the distribution at; it boots from the CD and has an installer. Ubuntu is used as an example because of its trouble-free installation and wide hardware support.

Source of Information : Pro Linux Embedded Systems

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